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CalMac MV Hebrides malfunction has knock-on impact for Stornoway-Ullapool route amid appeal to frustrated customers not to take it out on staff 'doing their best' in trying circumstances


By Hector MacKenzie

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CalMac managing director Robbie Drummond: 'I am deeply sorry for what [customers] are going through. Moving them onto other routes is far from ideal but without a spare vessel, this is the best option we have available.'
CalMac managing director Robbie Drummond: 'I am deeply sorry for what [customers] are going through. Moving them onto other routes is far from ideal but without a spare vessel, this is the best option we have available.'

CalMac has announced temporary plans for passengers affected by the current MV Hebrides disruption.

MV Hebrides, which operates between Lochmaddy in North Uist, Tarbert in Harris and Uig on Skye, has been removed for further essential repairs to her CO2 firefighting system.

MV Hebrides is departing Lochmaddy shortly to sail to the Dales yard in Greenock, with the required work set to start on Wednesday morning.

All options for a relief vessel have been explored and vessels across the rest of the CalMac network will remain on their timetabled routes for the current time.

There will be no Uig-Tarbert-Uig services tomorrow (Wednesday) or Thursday (August 3). MV Lord of the Isles is operating an additional Lochboisdale-Armadale-Lochboisdale sailing tomorrow and will operate to Armadale again on Thursday afternoon.

Booked passengers are being moved onto the timetabled Lochboisdale-Mallaig, Barra-Oban and Stornoway-Ullapool routes, and local hauliers have agreed to move commercial bookings to make space for other vehicles.

These diversions have been in place since this morning and all traffic has managed to be accommodated.

During these temporary changes, all Stornoway-Ullapool sailings will operate to the normal timetable, while Lochboisdale-Mallaig sailings have been adjusted to allow diversions to Armadale for commercial traffic that is too big to go under road bridges to Mallaig. Any vehicles too big to get to Mallaig will travel to Armadale to return to Lochboisdale.

Customers are being advised to check service updates on the CalMac website and Twitter page, while booked passengers are being contacted directly.

Robbie Drummond, managing director of CalMac, said: “Customers will understandably be upset about this latest disruption to their journeys, and I am deeply sorry for what they are going through. Moving them onto other routes is far from ideal but without a spare vessel, this is the best option we have available.

“We will find out what is causing this malfunction and get it fixed properly by a specialist team.

“I would like to thank customers, including hauliers and businesses who have agreed to move bookings, for their patience and support at this very difficult time.

“While we know this process is time consuming and frustrating for customers, our staff are doing their very best to help and should not be subjected to aggression or violent behaviour".".

Fact file

CalMac is the UK's largest ferry operator, running 29 routes to over 50 destinations, across 200 miles of Scotland's west coast. Its fleet of 35 vessels complete approximately 136,000 sailings a year with crossings ranging from five minutes to five and a half hours.

In 2019, its busiest year to date, it carried more than 5.6 million passengers. CalMac provides an everyday lifeline service to west coast communities, and for tourism, plays a critical role in enabling its development, which is hugely important for the area's economy.


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